Thursday, June 30, 2011

A break from my vacation

Last night I was up until 1am, but the sun was up even longer. I am going to the wedding of a friend who lives several hours North of the Arctic Circle on Saturday and staying with her through the weekend. If you live that far north this time of year it means that the sun doesn't set.

Turns out other things aren't setting either at home either! A friend sent me a link from Dick Bergersen's blog (link to the right) explaining that negotiations have stalled between the BREA & the BOE. I'm really disappointed, but frankly, not surprised. It seemed like there wasn't a lot of love between the two parties as of late...

Months ago I told someone the worst case scenario would be a strike... and you know what, tonight I am realizing that something I said in jest could become a reality. And I thought things were bad now?

Instead of stressing about something I can't change, I will go back to my friends. They are serving shrimp (I've had seafood every single day that I've been here!. I think I could use a glass of wine to go with the latest news from home.

Or, maybe when I'm in this beautiful house where I have a 180degree view of the mountains (it's really amazing!) I will enjoy the company and the wine...

...just because I can!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

tempus fugit

I spent last week as I have spent many summer weeks: at my in-laws' summer house.

As I write this (on my cell phone, so don't expect much text or editing), I am watching the plane with my husband and children take off for Copenhage, where they will catch the flight HOME. I'll be on a similar plane in less than a week but I still am tearing up as their plane is taxiing (?) and taking off into the clouds before my eyes.

When you travel to the same place to do the same things every year you can easily think that the more things change the more they stay the same. But not this year. My kids are changing. My daughter is almost an adult. Last night she confidently drove me around in the boat that I cursed my husband for letting her take out solo just a few years ago. This summer my (less confident) son tried hard to master the boat... and the language. It's amazing to see the changes in him in a week.

I realized I'm getting older too. That's ok. Last year I jogged 10 km... this year I did it twice. I also let my son guide me through an old, dark, dank underground bunker from the Germans. At first I said no way.... It's good to know that the kids aren't the only ones who can develop and grow. Mom and Dad can too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Midsummer Night's Walk

Tonight is the night when Scandinavians celebrate midsummer. If we lived in Norway my teenage daughter would have asked to walk (without us, but with her friends) about a mile to a bonfire with lots of other teenagers. About 11 she and her friends would have walked home and the older teens and young 20-somethings would continue celebrating the night with beer, wine and who knows what through the night.

Only once of twice have I ever celebrated midsummer. Once I walked the streets of Finland (I was 16) and it was the only night my host family didn't give me a curfew. I got to kiss a boy that I had a crush on, but left for home less than a week later... so they were bittersweet kisses.

Today I reflect on the fact that I am lucky to spend midsummer night healthy and happy with my two beautiful children.

Today I went for a walk in my old neighborhood with am former neighbor, IH. She is just as lovely as ever and it is always one of my biggest regrets that I couldn't stay in that neighborhood forever. But life brought us to Bridgewater and we are happy there too... and have made many beautiful friends there too.

On our walk she told me something very sad.

Eleven years ago we got new neighbors. Turns out the wife, Linda, was pregnant. She was due a few weeks after I was. But my husband ran into her husband at the hospital: she had a son the same day I had a son! We lived in the same duplex (a single family home divided in 2) and had sons born the same day. Linda was smart - she took a law degree almost totally on her own. After becoming a lawyer, in her 30s she became a judge.

Today I heard that she died. More than five years ago she got breast cancer. I heard she was cancer-free the last time I asked about her, but apparently it came back and this spring she died.

So today I'm grateful that my fate has kept me healthy. And I'm sad to hear the world has lost a talented woman and loving Mom. When I knew her she was a doting mom and a smart professional.

My neighborhood isn't going to be the same because from now on when I see my old house I'll realize that one of it's inhabitants is gone.

Rest in peace Linda. I wish we had kept in touch....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Misunderstood

My daughter wore her "outfit from Eleanor's". Of course, she meant her black skirt and shirt that we bought with with LuLu and NR last winter. This time it was for the wake of someone whom I'd never met, but heard lots about. A loving husband and father.

Politics are politics, and love is love.

I complain about the union, and A LOT about the BOE. But if I want one thing to be clear in this blog, it is that I have really fallen in love with some of the teachers we have come across in the district. Maybe I forget to mention how ever-grateful I am that our fate brought us to such wonderful people. Do I love every teacher we've ever had the "pleasure" (ha!) of dealing with? No. Have I always agreed with those whom I did love?  Nope. But don't misunderstand my bitching and moaning: We have been blessed many times over in Bridgewater.

Tonight I brought my daughter and NR to the wake of the husband of their second grade teacher. Ms. Teacher and I have a lot in common. Both of us come off as a little rough around the edges. Both of us are not afraid of being direct and honest, and in our own ways we both advocate for kids.  I LOVE both C's kindergarten and 1st grade teachers. So when I say that Ms. 2nd grade teacher taught my daughter to read, it isn't that I'm criticizing Mrs. Kindergarten and Mrs. First-Grade. At our Teacher Conference in November Ms Teacher said she had to redo C's reading assessment several times because she jumped 2 grade levels from September to November. I also remember that I was perturbed when N was in 2nd grade, thinking that their lack of journal-writing was a "watering down" of the system, when really Ms. Teacher was DIFFERENTIATING the curriculum to meet C's need for enrichment. I'm grateful for Ms. Teacher.

Ms. Teacher suddenly lost her husband this week. Here again, she and I have something in common. We are both married to immigrants, and have children who are living in dual-culture homes. We are bi-lingual and bi-cultural.

My heart goes out to Ms. Teacher. She also married a man seeking the American dream. Neither of us are the most popular, but we are both smart and honest. Neither of us have hidden agendas (I don't think) and we aren't afraid to disagree with those around us. That's why I like her.

I'm am really sorry for her. A Father's wake on the eve of Father's Day - it's awful, and a funeral the same weekend as a daughter's graduation - horrible! She's too young to lose her husband. Her kids are too young to lose their dad... Ms. Teacher is a strong woman, and in time will get through this, because that is what strong women do. I hope she knows I care. And I hope she knows that I'm thinking of her and will be for a long time to come. Cause in the end we may disagree (and I haven't actually asked her) about BOE/BREA/BW politics (but I'm guessing we do), but we  probably agree that she is a good person, and this is a very sad loss.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The lady in red...

Red is my favorite color. My signature even. I wear at least a little red nearly every day. We have a red sofa, I have at least 3 red coats. It is the color of love and blood and passion... Tomato sauce... peppers, cherries. Strawberries... CHRISTMAS... It's been my favorite color  my whole life - and that's getting to be a long time. I wore red to prom, to many parties, when I was on The View and in my wedding bouquet. When running for the BOE I tended to wear red or pink to look feminine but strong. 


Normally I LOVE to see other people wearing red too. MR looks especially good with bright red lipstick. And, of course MCM has red hair...


Today though, C came home from school and said all the teachers at the Middle School were wearing red. I didn't get it... She explained it was apparently to support the union. (The kids at N's school wore red for MARE week... no word yet on what the teachers were wearing. But now I'm a bit curious. Did they wear red to be pro-union or blue to support the school spirit???) I am tempted to wake N and ask him before he forgets!!! (Note: His school is on the video below and they are all in red- and both of his teachers were absent yesterday. My kids' elementary school is the one at the beginning of the video.)


I'm not against liberal-leaning politics. If you know anything about me, you know I'm far left of center! Nor am I a stranger to political canvasing! My sister is a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood and my brother works for PBS and  President of  his state's Humanities Council and I'd work with/for either of them in a New York Minute. Three of my last four employers were state colleges/universities. So clearly I'm pro public education. (I ran for the BOE on a give more opportunities to more kids platform, although my message wasn't clear enough). But I don't get teachers who are parading a political agenda with an audience of 12-14 year old kids (or now I see, 5 and 6 year olds). Middle school kids can't vote and they don't care - especially 3 days before summer vacation! 


So why canvas the school in red t-shirts???? And, why RED???? (Yes I am probably very ignorant here, there is probably a reason, readily available on the NJEA or BREA websites). Red has been taken by the right! C asked 3 different teachers about the red clothes. They (and I quote her) "sorta explained.  It was something about their retirement - but it didn't make sense."  When I offered to explain further, C actually preferred to go to bed rather than listen. This made my point. Kids don't care, and voters aren't around to see what teachers are wearing!


But when I think about it further... I don't wear red for other people. I wear red for myself. To me it's the color of confidence. Maybe union members aren't wearing clothes in solidarity as much as they are wearing it for their own feelings of inclusion. Maybe they aren't trying to convince 12 and 13 and 14 year olds that they should tell their parents to support the union (which is what I assumed at first). Maybe they are trying to feel part of the rallies in Trenton or the negotiations we (the public) don't know much about. 


And anyway, we are all sending (probably unintended) messages about our politics every day in what we wear. Lands End catalog? You're a suburbanite. Short skirt = slut. Decadent diamonds: probably voted for Bush. Birkenstocks? One guess... Yes, I'm being facetious. 


Red may be the color of conservatives - and I'm many many many things, but I'm not that, even though I love to wear red. But it's also the color of one of my very very very favorite things. People like it regardless of politics, and pretty much all over the world, and since ancient times:












Wine




So enjoy one of my favorite songs (below) and with my favorite drink (above). 





Maybe Chris DeBurgh is right? 
"I've never seen you shine so bright... you were amazing
I've never seen so many people want to be there by your side...
and when you turned to me and smiled, it took my breath away..." 


Maybe that's what the teachers were going for (doubtful, but maybe) - and who can blame them. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Under the Sea

Down the shore...
"Such wonderful things are all around you,
what more are you looking for?
Under the sea,
Under the sea,
Darling it's is better,
down where it's wetter,
take it from me...
Up on the shore,
they work all day,
Out in the sun they slave all day...
While we devoting, full time we're floating,
Under the sea...."

Dissecting the squid. Students of all ages welcome
My son's school has a special marine program called MARE. It's part of their Science curriculum, but they really focus on and celebrate marine life every June. This is my 3rd year attending and I really enjoyed myself. After the decorations, we rushed to be the first group to dissect the squid. It was my daughter's former Science teacher who was running the show, and as usual she did a great job breaking it down and preventing a major yuck factor. We learned the various parts, what they were for and also a little squid trivia. Did you know they swim at 20 miles per hour and live all over the planet?? (Or that they are eaten in every country in the world?)

Although it seemed much less crowded this year than in the past, I really think that it is a highlight of the Science curriculum, and includes what I have been complaining that the school lacks: enrichment that encompasses EVERYONE regardless of level. I learned lots of things - and our squid was a girl. There is both an ink and a pen in a squid. Who knew?

There were more games in past years, but this year they had done more decorating, effectively transforming the school into an ocean. Every single child had an opportunity to share their knowledge - and their artistic talents - and it was certainly a team effort. There were 3D fish (and other marine life) all over the school.

Best part of all... finally using the "beach"
But the best part of all: the relaxed atmosphere. So often you go to PTO or school events and it is stressful. How often do you see a Principal in a Hawaiian shirt?

Sitting outside, waiting for it to get dark enough to enjoy the outdoor movie (which never really materialized - when they planned this last winter, they forgot how late it stays light in mid-June), the kids and parents all used the beach-area. Parents talked with one another, kids ran around, not really caring that there was no movie (Oceans was also playing in the gym).

We finally gave up waiting for darkness and let the kids play on the playground.

It was a beautiful night. My son loved it and so did I!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moral Relativism

Several of my friends have been outraged about the whole Weinerscandal.

I'm yawning.

I just don't care enough about what politicians do to spend my limited emotional resources worrying about them. Bill Maher really had me laughing last night when I saw this (don't watch with your kids around!!! This is HBO*, after all!):



But what if I did care. I mean, what if it were one of my friends? It's easy to judge a politician over coffee with my happily married girlfriends. To be honest, Hillary staying with Bill sent a terrible message of "stand by your man" that still bugs me more than even Arnold or countless other politicians...

Sometimes when I watch TV I find myself cheering that the main character will cheat, sometimes not (In Sex-and-the-City I wanted Carrie to stay faithful to Aiden, but I wanted her to cheat on Alexander). Moral relativism from the safety of my sofa.

It's different in real life!  How do we treat our imperfect friends? I know I am guilty of moral relativism here - a friend recently told me she had cheated on her husband, and I was actually happy for her! Another friend's liaison? I have to admit I've been less supportive. Moral relativism. 

Is little moral relativism a good thing? Who of us is perfect? Not me! I talk on my cell while driving every single day. My house is a mess. I'd rather drink wine than water. And on and on the list goes. How about you? Never mind... that's between You and YOU. Maybe you are perfect, or close to it... and maybe this song is for you?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Skirting the issue

I have to admit it: my daughter has good taste. She likes pretty (albeit expensive) clothes and generally speaking we don't argue about what she wants to wear that often.
C's wearing a similar skirt.**

Today I love her outfit. She is wearing a navy flowered miniskirt (purchased at a store that you can both hear and smell from 500 feet away) and a pink t-shirt.

She looks great!

But earlier this year she got in trouble for the same skirt being too short for dress code (they didn't measure in the office, they just eyed her and wrote her name down). This skirt may be a little short, but otherwise it is age-appropriate, so it really got my goat when C had detention because it "looked too short". C says it is bias against taller girls. She happened to meet the Superintendent at the Middle School. What was the one thing the girls wanted to change about the MS? The answer was easy: the dress code! (She also wanted him to give her LAL teacher a raise, which he said he couldn't do).

Another time C asked if she and her friends could bring a petition before the BOE. She got a lesson in division of power (I didn't have the heart to tell her that the BOE doesn't seem to care how many people sign petitions). I explained that the BRMS dress code is up to the Principal. She found both the Superintendent AND the BOE less intimidating than the Principal!

So today when the district is apparently contemplating sending children home early because of the heat, I hope that the powers that be in the air-conditioned offices of the Middle School give a little slack on the dress code! I'd rather have my daughter be in a morally questionably-length skirt (ha!) then lose 2 hours of instruction. But that's just me.....


** Picture from http://www.tforia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/anf_skirt.gif - accessed June 8, 2011. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Momento mori

Another victim of cancer... another daughter rehearsing a eulogy today...CM was running through what she's going to say on Wednesday at her Mom's funeral when I spoke with her. MJM talked about how she just lost her best friend. I wasn't really her daughter, but I share in their loss.

Growing up there was a place I could always turn to when I needed love: Missie B's kitchen. Just down the road, the M family always knew when I needed extra care. I've mentioned my mother as a famous cook and brilliant woman, but our kitchen never resonated the warmth that Missie B's had.  When I was sad, I was fortunate enough to have a 2nd family looking out for me, with Missie B always willing to welcome me into her kitchen.



She was a warm and loving soul.


Part of me wants to go to her funeral to pay my last respects, and give her my thanks. Part of me thinks I should stay away. Do I stay or do I go? Tick-tock-tick-tock. I need to make a final decision. The funeral is in New Hampshire, so I need to make arrangements. I think Missie B would say that I shouldn't leave my kids, husband and dog. Part of me, though, is drawn to go.


Maybe a better way to honor her memory is to make sure my own kitchen is a place of refuge for other people's children the way hers was for me? Does someone else's child, someone who needs a little extra love, feel they can come to me for love and support the way I did with Missie B? Will any of C or N's friends think of me when they are 40, and remember me as that person they could turn to when they needed love as I remember her?

The next time I am feeling impatient or overwhelmed, I should remember what being a great mother looks like, and practice Missie B's example.  In an age when mothering was NOT a competitive sport, she was a winner! Rest peacefully, Missie B. God knows you deserve it after a lifetime of taking care of others! And thanks for the pizzelles.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

White Nights

It's hard to imagine that "The Enemy" was ever anyone but a group of religious fundamentalists who destroyed Lower Manhattan and who have been committing random acts of extreme violence in this country and throughout the world for more than 15 years.

But it was. In 1987 the arch enemy was the USSR.... The Russians!

And my parents sent me with a tour group from my exchange student organization to the heart of the Iron Curtain: Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). It was an amazing leap of faith, especially considering my father didn't want me to go to Finland because it bordered Russia! My Mom heard that the Hermitage Museum was part of the trip and she sent me in order to pay homage to her master, DaVinci.

Today I opened yesterday's New York Times and the memories flooded back: "White Nights in St. Petersburg". At 16 my parents let me go. I don't usually quote my diaries in this blog. In fact, I never have. But today I will share a few entries (keeping mistakes). The first was written 24 years ago today.

2am, 05 June 1987, for Thursday

I'll never forget tonight no matter how long I live. It proved that the Russians - youth are friendly - wanting to be friends and hospitable. After an extended tour of Moscow's subways (which are incredibly beautiful - like it's own museum) we split into groups - the group I was with didn't go back to the hotel. We met this guy "Gregory" who walked us around the city. He was dressed VERY American - same Reebocks as me, green coat, pink backpack. We told him we wanted some action, so he took us to his grandmother's apartment. We were there with a few of his friends, all drinking wine. Only Gregory spoke relatively great, good or any English. Being there was an undescribable experience. We sipped wine, talked (he said so much!!) and sang. Beatles! Yesterday and others. Then he and his friend sang 2 beautiful songs in Russia. The English he knew... impressive! well, I guess he can read well so he learns long political types of words. He kept saying to make ourselves feel as if it were our home. it did. Afterwards I felt a bit guilty because we didn't trust or believe him at first about his grandmother's house. But, I guess it was understandable!

Moscow is a great city. I cant' describe how strange and unreal it feels to be here. We've seen and done so much already. It's a HUGE city! In the day we went to Red Square and ate in the biggest Restaurant in Europe 2x. 

07 June 1987, writing about 06.06

Well, we got up at about 9 and went to breakfast. By the way, the food's been relatively shitty. It's not too edible. We can't drink the water, and the food... is like eating at camp. 

Afterwards we went to Lenin's tomb. he was actually living there - air tight room and you could see his entire body - along with lot of peoples tomb-stones place in a wall - this is all in red Square, across the street from "Gum". Allison and I went to Gum - kind of something between a mall and a flee market. I bought champagne and something for Nonny. Allison and i sold something on the black market. it's a big buisness - selling on the blackmarket.

Well we took a taxi home and we spoke Finnish the whole time (so the driver didn't think we were Americans). (...)

08 June 1987

Well, yesterday we arrived in Leningrad. Our hotel and the food are better here but the water situation has worsened. The shower water is brown (REALLY!) and REALLY unsafe to drink. They call Leningrad the Venice of the North. 

We went for a long buse ride and were bored. It blows your mind that we're seeing all these things and people we learned last year (I'm talking about my 10th grade High School European History Class). I wish I'd seen it before Mrs. Newcomb's class. 

In the Afternoon we saw the Hermitage in The Winter Garden Palace. I feel like I should have seen the DeVinci's longer and I didn't like the free-style painting of Picasso. (They had a special exhibition on him). 

(...)

Immediately after a small group of us went to the city. I ended up having a pepsi with Jason and Robert. We spent the whole evening/night together. We were in Winter Palace Square enjoying the white nights while watching these people who were so oviously Americans. I made a very accurate and deep comment that they look exactly as we did at CW Post (our pre-departure orientation, at this point we had been living in Europe for about 10 months). They even played with a hacki-sack.

So finally Jason and Roberts friends showed up and we drove around in their LADA for a while looking for friends. Then we found them and did something very romantic and fun, we went for a carriage ride. Done in the "sunset" (at 12.30am). It was an undescribably feeling sitting up there in front with Robert and the guy. Then we stopped and drank champagne and ate little cakes. I was a bit tipsy.

Then they drove to the other side of the bridge because they rise at 2 am - 4am so the boats can go into the city. From there we hitchhiked home.

I hope you enjoyed "foreign correspondent" and future Soccer Mom's view of the world. Maybe I'll see if I can scan some pictures sometime.    These days my world is really Central Jersey and instead of ornate Russian subways, I travel by Japanese cars. Coming home from Finland I LOVED reading the New York Times Travel Section every Sunday and desperately wanted to be a Correspondent. Looking back now, I wouldn't give up my kids or husband or my life (insert small sigh) but I see that part of me was on the path of any good travel writer: observe and share.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Literary discovery

Being that I wasn't working, I spent most of the day reading a book that my daughter's fabulous LAL teacher suggested. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a woman's book. By a woman, about women (almost like the feminist literature I read in college, men are are background fixtures) and each character radiates a mixture of femininity and strength. I can't put it down!

I've also been "coked up on Facebook". One of the topics that I read last night by my uber-talented friend, was reposted by another smart Chiquita. Both criticized a Nobel Laureate who claimed that his writing is superior to all women, and that you can tell a women's writing by it's sentimental content.

I read several rebuttals... NPR wrote one here. The New York Times had several comments on several blogs. I liked this one (and it's short!). You can spend hours sucked into the web's vortex if you wish.

The title of my blog gives away my sex even if my voice doesn't, but it should. I'm proud of the woman I am. I took the Guardian test to see if you can guess if something was written by a man or a woman. I got 3 out of 10 correct.

So I'll end with something else I found on the net: a list of 250 books I found on a website. http://www.joylandmagazine.com/brian/blog/250_books_women_all_men_should_read "Books written by women that every man should read". Guess what - there are a lot of titles on there that are new to me. I need to get reading. But first things first... back to CeeCee Honeycutt. Nothing like an English teacher who can inspires our children (and their parents) to read! I've never been one to burn books - but if I were, I know whose books I'd put onto the fire first!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Something's lost, something's gained

Today I "lost" my job. Nothing formal. No paperwork. No board room drama. No teary good-byes. I sent one last e-mail and rushed out to pick up C from the Middle School, taking a small tin of personal items, my toothbrush was still unopened from the box. I wasn't fired, I just ran out of stuff to do. My boss will call me when they need me. Then again, he may choose to call someone else instead. Today for a moment I was reminded of Spring 1985. I was a freshman "going out with" a senior, but when it came time for that prom, he brought someone else. In this case, we were two temps and the other woman got the permanent position. Looking back now, not getting invited to prom was a bigger disappointment than not getting this job, to give you an idea how little I had emotionally invested.

But I realized I gained something: lots of weight. I spent three of the last four months working out and eating healthy, and when I was finally within just a few pounds of my goal I took a job with lots of cookies and daily catering and no time to exercise. So tonight I downloaded music to my cell phone, turned-mp3 player so that I can spend the next weeks running off the daily biscotti, stuffed shells and all the other no-nos I have enjoyed at work.

I don't mind being benched. Have you seen the weather? It's the paycheck that stay at home moms get to cash: the ability to spend time outside all day long when the weather is nice! Or rather: it's always been MY paycheck. Paybacks for not getting a paycheck. The kitchen can completely fall apart. The laundry can wait until it can't wait any longer. If it is nice outside I want to be in the fresh air. Look for me tomorrow. I'll be the one with the blaring ipod and the big smile. Ran 2.5 miles tonight listening to empowered women, like Cher. (Oh, MC & SA, I also added our newest song to my running mix and I'll smile and think of the dirty little freaks when I run!). Fresh air, good music and sunshine beats an office on a summer day!

2011 has (so far) been a Year or Wonder. I spent January and February in a period of perpetual sadness and contemplation. Then I spent several months this spring trying to reach goals outside of my comfort zone.  This process is ongoing, as I seek new challenges. I'd like to spend this summer planning my next step. So much of life has been fate - what has happened to me. Which road did I stumble upon. Which roads did I avoid. I wonder if I have a plan, can I execute it? It I'm actively going to plan my life, I better be more certain of the direction. "It's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all..."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time for a change

Before e-mail. Before fax machines. Before cell phones. And certainly before blogs... I wrote letters. I must have written lots of letters since I have tons of letters others have written back. Poppet the Pack Rat rarely throws away a letter.

Long-time readers know that I like to change the blog's background with the seasons. This summer's choice may not be your cup of tea, but I chose it for a reason. It matches stationary (do my kids even know that word?) that I had about 20 years ago. Since this blog sometimes sounds like a letter to the you, my readers, I thought it would be an appropriate choice.

And if you hate the colors (and I know one of you will) you'll be happy to know that come fall I'll debut a new line. Let's hope there will be original thoughts, as well.

Don't judge a blog by it's background.

Happy Reading!

Having a magnetic personality....

BRRSD is planning a Magnet School for ESL students K-3 at Bradley Gardens school, with a start date of 09/2011. You can read the presentation here. (I haven't read it yet - I know: read first, blog later, but this isn't so much a response to what they've proposed... today's blog is about my experience).

For the first time since the election, I'm really disappointed that I didn't get on the BOE! My personal experience would actually been relevant to the discussion. I studied foreign language immersion programs as part of my MA. I'm trilingual because I went to school in two foreign countries, but my most relevant background is that I have a bilingual child in the district!

It doesn't seem possible now, but it's true: my daughter entered BRRSD as a non-English speaker! We left the US when she was an infant and moved back to the US just before she started school. C hardly spoke any English and "her 5-year old alphabet" had a few extra letters (å ø æ). True, English was her "Mother's Tongue", but neither C nor N spoke much English. Albeit, she came from a very advantaged background, where she'd been read to in English since birth, seen tons of PBS kids programs, and she had visited America many times. But C only spoke very broken English when we moved here in mid-July of 2003.

If offered, would I have put C in such a program?

My kids' fantastic, fabulous wonderful... but not academic day care
I would have considered it carefully! Maybe they test the kids first - and with C's luck she would have fallen slightly outside of the acceptance parameters. C also came into the district with a "similar disadvantage" that presumably some other ESL kids experience: she had NO academic training in her pre-school. Socialization? Yes. Lots of tactile projects (beading, baking bread, building blocks, etc.) but no letters, no numbers, no writing.

Actually C is an argument against the target school because she did fine in kindergarten with NO ESL services. She struggled at first to find words and to understand her new friends but by winter break she spoke both languages fluently, and by the end of the year she had lost her "Swedish chef accent". Today her English is far superior to her first language. But she had the one thing most of these kids don't have: English-speaking parents. (English isn't her Dad's mother tongue, but it's our primary language at home. When we moved here in 2003, it was NOT our primary at-home language).

Did Dr. Seuss teach my kids
It will be very interesting to watch this play out from the sidelines. (Readers, you can insert your criticism that I'm asking this without doing my homework first...) Do the decision-makers know anything about second-language acquisition? Do they get the cultural implications of isolating ESL learners? What about the BOE- what are their opinions? Is BRRSD sending information to the target students' parents in their mothers tongues??? Are parents involved in the process? Or is this all being decided around a conference table behind closed doors as per normal? And, you are hearing an earful from Bradley Garden parents - but did BG have a say when their school was picked to host this magnet school?

In the end, C didn't need ESL training. Who taught her English? You're thinking her English-speaking loud-mouth Mom, right? Wrong: Her peers did! (Another argument against the magnet school).

I am looking forward to hearing the final details about the magnet school. I may have made several arguments against the program in today's blog, but I'm not totally against it. I am sure there will be a fair amount of discourse about the location of the school. Bridgewater is famous for a Not-in-my-backyard attitude about LOTS of things (dog parks, cell phone towers, mosques, COAH housing, AI, just to name a few off the top of my head.....). When I first heard about the plan a few months ago, I was very keen on the idea. After having discussed it over coffee this morning I'm a bit more skeptical. I want to reserve final judgment until I learn more. And, you know what - I can't wait. To me this is as interesting as knitting. So even though I can't vote on the matter, nor do I represent parents in any way, I can educate myself on our district's plans. And then voice an educated opinion, from very personal experience.